'When it comes to self-care, no one can argue that it’s not a high-value activity' - Generocity Philly


Mar. 30, 2017 12:53 pm

‘When it comes to self-care, no one can argue that it’s not a high-value activity’

Bethesda Project CEO Tina Pagotto's Work Hacks involve prioritization, a "one-minute rule," white noise and DIY stoplights.

Tina Pagotto in her office at Bethesda Project.

(Courtesy photo)

No one can work effectively when they’re stressed and franticTina Pagotto is no exception.

The nonprofit professional is about nine months into her role as CEO of Bethesda Project, the homelessness org that provides shelter and housing around the city, while finding new ways to measure the outcomes of highly qualitative work.

How does she manage it all? Primarily, by making time for ever-important self-care. Here are her Work Hacks.


What’s the first thing you do every day before doing any job-related work?

Tidy up my workspace! I often finish the day offsite at a meeting, and don’t always leave my workspace in the best order. To help organize my thoughts, I organize my space. Then I rip off yesterday’s date on my “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff” desk calendar to read today’s tidbit of wisdom. From there, I make my prioritized “to do” list before I ever open my email.

Where do you work? 

My primary workspace is my office at Bethesda Project’s administrative office at 1630 South. When I became CEO, I spent time creating a space that offered inspiration and comfort, knowing I’d be spending a significant amount of time there. I am most productive in that space.

What’s your KPI for every day? How do you know it’s been a productive day?

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I try to finish each day identifying three successes. They can be in any form — an interaction I had, a deadline that was met, a meeting that was productive. These successes are then easily tied back to our mission and core values, which are solid reminders of what we are accomplishing daily.

What’s a time-saving life hack you practice?

I’ve been to many work/life balance workshops and one suggested practice that has stuck is the “one-minute rule.” If I have a task that surfaces that can be done in 60 seconds or less (filing a paper, answering an email, giving guidance), I JUST DO IT. It will take less time to complete it in the moment than it will to add it to a list for future follow-up.

One original hack of mine is the use of a “stoplight” on a bulletin strip outside of my office door, to let my team know my availability. Without setting boundaries during critical office time, interruptions can really stunt my workflow.

Tina Pagotto Work Hack stoplight

“Stoplight” work hack. (Courtesy photo)

What motivates you about your work?

The combination of internal management of operations and external relationship building is very rewarding. I have the privilege of seeing the life-changing work we do on a daily basis, and the honor of sharing our story with the larger community.

When life gets busy, how do you make sure you make time for your personal priorities?

I rely on a few quotes and mantras, which I’ve picked up over the years. When I’ve got to separate and make time for myself, I rely on “The work will be here tomorrow” and when I need to wrap things up at the end of the day, I turn to “You will die with a list; distinguish between high-value and low-value activities.” When it comes to self-care, no one can argue that it’s not a high-value activity.

What tool or practice do you wish existed to help you get it all done?

A clone!

What’s your preferred workday soundtrack?

I prefer silence while I’m working, which is challenging in a small admin office with peers who truly enjoy working together and collaborating. So when I need that focus, I turn on white noise using SimplyNoise, which has become one of my favorite tools.


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